Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Afraid of Rejection

Have you ever read a romance novel? I mean the real cheesy ones cranked out almost daily by Harlequin and publishers like that? If you have then you've noticed how they all have a specific formula. The two main characters can't stand each other for one reason or another. They go through whatever story is created for them by the writer and as they fall for each other their relationship gets worse because one or both of them is afraid to tell the other how they really feel. They are afraid of getting hurt. I've read several of these books in between what I like to call "smart" books as a way of cleansing my palate before I go on to another "smart" book because I know how it will go, there is a certain rhythm to it that makes it easy and I can follow it mindlessly. I've found myself many times getting upset with the characters though. I guess those times I'm really reading the story not just skimming through. I get upset with them because they waste so much time protecting themselves and their hearts. I want to tell them that the only way they can be happy is to open themselves up to what they are feeling and allow others into their hearts. I want to tell them that, yes, sometimes you will get hurt but sometimes, everything will work out right and you will be happy. The funny thing is, I know this and yet have found myself repeating that behavior anyway. In this post, I'm going to tell you all about how I did exactly that.

My last post was a response to Rick's post entitled "When Open Really Means Closed". Rick got several responses on that post and not all of them were kind, so I wrote my last post trying to say that even though I had a basically closed adoption, (I knew who my father was but there was no communication or contact and I lived with my mother) I'm fine and am mentally balanced. What I was trying to say is that everyone is different and not everyone has to have the same experience meaning not everyone HAS to have an open adoption to be ok. I kind of fell short of my goal. Insinuation and subtlety are not my strong suit so I got my own less than glowing response.

I got a message from my Uncle, (it seems so strange to call someone my uncle when I don't even know what he looks like) because his wife saw my post. I don't know when, but at some point we became facebook friends. He said I had a "distorted, one-sided picture of the events". He went on to tell me some things I already knew, clarify some things I suspected, and flesh out some details that I only knew part of the story on. We exchanged a couple emails and I got a little better picture of the man my father was. (I'm going to call him my father and the man who raised me my dad, to me it's more personal than the clinical biological father and adoptive father.) He didn’t sugar coat his faults or the mistakes he made, nor did he sugar coat the mistakes my mother made or how they hurt each other and subsequently me. Although, on first reading, the email had a reprimand kind of feel to it, it was actually refreshing to get a perspective that wasn’t designed to be gentle. My mom has always been so careful to not be negative that sometimes it has been hard to get a clear picture of them and the struggles they had.

Then I contacted my father's wife and we exchanged a couple more messages and she clarified some more about him and told me what she remembered from the week I spent with them.  It seems, from my perspective, as I said in my post, I thought I was a little too hard on him, but from their perspective, I wasn't "particularly friendly and angry". Now that I look back on it and try to see it from their perspective, I can see how they would think that. I remember some of the conversations we had and my responses and think "Wow, that's exactly the teenage attitude that drives me crazy". I know where it came from and why I was doing it, I just didn't realize at the time that people saw me as angry. It was a defense mechanism, I was trying to be cautious and maybe a little aloof so I couldn't be hurt but on the outside it didn't look like that at all. Silly as it may sound, I thought  was doing a good job of being cool and aloof.

I said in my last post that "he let me leave after telling me repeatedly how much he loved me and never contacted me again." That has always bothered me, I couldn’t understand how someone could love like that and just walk away. It seemed like as good a time as any, so I asked my Uncle if he had any idea why, and for good measure and for another perspective, I asked my father’s wife the same question. I got two completely different answers. They both made me come to the same conclusion and they both made me think of those cheesy romance novels I mentioned in the beginning of this post.

My Uncle, very eloquently said, I would have to look inward for the answer and while doing that, I should ask myself why I never contacted him. My father’s wife said that he wanted me to make the decision on whether I wanted to have a relationship or was I just curious about him.

So in the end, what it came down to was, fear. Before I was old enough to understand the love it took to let a child go, I thought I was rejected. That’s when mom and her gentleness really came in handy.  She assured me repeatedly that that was not the case. When I was old enough to understand, I wanted proof that the love was still there so I waited for him to contact me. I didn’t want to call him and hear that somehow I had fallen short of his expectations and I was actually rejected for real this time. (I guess the little girl is still buried in here somewhere)  All the while he was waiting for me to decide that I actually wanted him in my life, that he was more than just a curiosity, and I left him hanging.

We both went on with our lives, we had good lives and good relationships with our families, it’s just sad that we both denied each other a relationship because we didn’t talk rather than because we decided together that we wanted it that way. His wife says he was fine with whatever decision I made but I have a feeling, based on the things they both told me, that he was just as afraid of the rejection as I was.
Written By Bonnie
Group Member
Retail Store Owner
Future Mom

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